19 October 2006

1158) Pamuk's Task

First of all, I want to put it on the record that I have followed Orhan Pamuk with great pleasure and appreciation since the publication of his “Black Book,” and that, asking for the forgiveness of literary critics, I think he is the greatest author in Turkish literature’s recent history. . .

I wholeheartedly congratulate him on winning the Nobel prize for Literature.

However, the Nobel Prize for Literature having fallen on the same day as France’s questionable draft law warns us that we have to be sparing while showing our excitement and joy.

This Nobel award, for which we will always praise our great writer, couldn’t have come at a worse time.

What should be done now? Can our Nobel author take a role in the struggle against the injustice made against his own nation this time?

Let whoever wants to boycott do so; but 200l clearly showed that stupid plans like bringing France to its knees through trade never work. France has the world’s seventh largest economy, its per capita income is almost 30 thousand dollars and its economic volume exceeds 2 trillion dollars annually.

Mistakes like trusting that Chirac will call Erdogan and say, “I’m sorry,” expecting him to obstruct the bill, giving compromise after compromise hoping he will, and buying plenty of Airbuses, shouldn’t be repeated.

Both of Chirac’s probable successors, right-wing Nicolas Sarkozy and leftist Segolene Royal have already made recognition of a “genocide” a condition of Turkey’s EU membership just like the current “friend of the Turks” president.

OK, let’s say that Chirac doesn’t sign this bill, won’t it be brought back to life a few years later?

What should be done is to immediately make the bill a law. As soon as it becomes a law, a serious struggle should be begun on the basis of freedom of expression. Last week in Europe there were many decisions indicating that Turkey would win such a struggle started on the basis of freedom of expression. We can list them as follows:

The EU Commission took a stand against the bill; not only Expansion Commissioner Olli Rehn, but also at the highest level, Chairman Barroso.

France’s largest newspapers agreed that the French National Assembly had acted unreasonably. In general, the European press supported this stand.

There were official public statements from the European Parliament, which is constantly giving Turkey a headache regarding the issue of “genocide,” saying, “You’ve made Voltaire turn over in his grave,” and, “If a law is being made for the Armenian genocide, why aren’t you doing anything about other injustices?”

Even one of the genocide-accusing members of the EP, French Marie Anne Isler Beguin, joined in on the protests, “Do you want to throw Turkey into the lap of Iran and Russia?”

Without losing any time, France’s most expert historians called upon Chirac to have the bill rescinded if it passes the Senate.

It can be said that an intellectual alliance is emerging throughout Europe - even though it’s not strong - believing that France has gone too far this time and exceeded its limits.

If the bill is not buried in France, it is just a matter of time before it jumps to Belgium, Holland and other countries.

The best thing to do would be to pull the discussion toward a freedom of expression platform and get the intellectual consensus emerging in Europe behind us.

Then Orhan Pamuk’s going to Paris with Hrant Dink would be effective. Pamuk’s going to Paris as a Nobel-winning author from a country that has abolished or amended article 301 could turn into a visit that would make France ashamed.

Actually, this is just the right time to amend Article 301!

In an interview with the BBC just after winning the award, Pamuk did not mention freedom of expression in relation to questions about France. This does not promise hope.

However, on the day he is to receive the award, if after criticizing the genocide bill from top to bottom in the speech he makes in Sweden, if the bill becomes law and he jumps on the first flight to Paris and, as Hrant Dink promised to do, he proclaims that he doesn’t recognize the “genocide” (even if he believes it happened), then the coldness between him and the Turkish people would to a large extent disappear.



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